6th February 2008, 17:54
I'm interested in the sinking of Oceanos of Durban some years ago. This was rather strange case as the crew abandoned the ship way ahead of the passengers. For some years ago I saw in TV an interview with Oceanos Master here he told the reporter that he had given the order of abandoning the ship but no one seemed to respond to that so he left the sinking ship as he would be better of arranging rescue operations from shore. Does any one of you have a copy of this interview?

Capt. Hilmar

7th February 2008, 14:27
Captain, Do a Google search on Oceanos, and look in Wikipedia plenty of information on the ship.

8th February 2008, 22:06
I remember the incident but not the minutia of the rescue attempt. Wikipedia does not indicate that Oceanus was running with the wind, not against it. I was only a hundred miles or so away with a brand new fourth stripe on my shoulder.

Do any new captains have a straightforward first trip? I can't say I had anything like the rigours of Tony's first trip but my own was not without its moments.

A day out of Durban - my first passage in command - we passed East London en route to Walvis Bay. We weren't making much speed, earlier in the day we were doing five knots but over three knots of that was the Aghulas current. We were thumping into the swell and the anemometer that I'd just repaired the previous trip carried away. The Chief Engineer, Ian Miller, came up to the bridge. So did the Chief Officer at another time. Why don't you go inside they both said. Closer inshore, inside the 100 fathoms line usually meant less steep swell but less favourable current. I said we were easing inside, any faster then we would roll. Eventually I told the 3rd mate to bring her in another five degrees. Five minutes later the said Chief Engineer came back up to the bridge and with a huge grin told me that was the pub lunch all over the galley deck. We had rolled. The pub lunch was safe however, but that was my chief engineer, we'd sailed together on and off for about five years. He was the man chosen to take "England" out of storage when Cunard bought her for the Falklands. Superb engineer but mentally I was never agile enough against him.

Passing East London we watched a small passenger ship leaving. It had to be close to five in the afternoon because our third engineer had just come off watch and remarked that all her passengers were going to be seasick.

About ten in the evening East London relayed an SOS from Oceanos. I had agonised over responding to the SOS, part because we were a tanker; and also would it compromise our fuel. We were doing 80 rpm, 11 knot in flat conditions, 5rpm less than manoeuvring full ahead and just enough to work the exhaust gas boiler; and to respond to the SOS would mean full speed - the wrong way. Energos - the ex "Mobil Refiner" which Cunard managed for the South Africans was only three quarters loaded and possessed an air driven crane each side at the fore end of the accommodation. What a superb platform we could have made for the rescue of personnel. (but they couldn't smoke on deck). East London decided we were too far away, perhaps a hundred miles. Agonise no more but feel guilty for not assisting. Very odd emotions.

Next morning we passed a big girl stopped and listing. The "Mimosa", 200 and odd thousand tons with no steering gear and a ruptured wing tank, obviously an empty tank. Pays to press up your wing tanks and leave a centre slack - if you can. Oloibiri had dedicated clean ballast wing tanks, so could have the same problems.

I later read a report on Oceanus, it seems there was a catalogue of incidents leading up to the foundering - including a sea water pipe opened up and not blanked off.

9th February 2008, 21:00
This incident was remarkable for the fact that something like 700 people were taken off by the South African rescue services. I think there was one fatality. This record was not well publicised at the time because South Africa was 'out of favour' and still practiced apartheid.

4th March 2008, 16:08
look by you tube and you can see the last hours of the liner

8th March 2008, 11:36
look by you tube and you can see the last hours of the liner
I saw it on TV at the time, I was working in Durban. Thanks anyway.

15th March 2008, 13:56
Go to my webpage...
I have quite a bit of Oceanos material, I sailed on her when she came to South Africa a few years before her disasterous season. I also have a recording off the TV of the captain saying that he went ashore to organise the rescue. That incident nearly killed off our very shakey cruising market.